Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Towns I Like.

Find a city. Find myself a city.
To visit.

When I go on vacation I tend to stay as far from population centers as I possibly can. There are many, many reasons for this. I have almost always lived in cities with lots of people, so it's the old "been there, done that" mentality. But I also just do not like crowds. You could argue that I am a misanthrope and I would not waste any time defending myself of that charge. But to boil it all down, I just don't like crowds of humans and I'm not fond of participating in group-think and being stuck within throngs of people.

However, from time to time I have been known to enjoy being in some towns and cities. I often can't explain exactly why I like these places, but I do.

So...here's a brief list.

New York City.

I used to visit NYC at least once a year. It should be everything that I hate, but for some bizarre reason I get a kick out of the joint. Once I was almost mugged there, but I got away. I'll never forget the expression on the faces of the two asshole would-be muggers as I escaped. Eyes in the back of me head, as they say. One of the most vivid experiences I ever had was walking all over downtown Manhattan in the depths of night during an impressive snowstorm with several friends. Gee whiz, I am glad I have that experience stored in the old gray matter.

Columbus Circle, where I almost got mugged the last time I was in NYC. Still love the place.

My mom was born in Manhattan. Maybe that's one reason I like it? As good a reason as any other, I reckon.

I have not been back to New York in many, many years. My wife has never been, so I'd like to take her there to see the place and do the whole tourist thang. We'll see.

Damascus, VA.

This is a small town by any stretch of the description. It sits in a valley in the very high mountains of southwest Virginia. It doesn't hurt that this is one of my favorite places to vacation. Carole and I have been to this part of the state too many times to count, and we always find something new to see and do. Damascus is called "the friendliest town on the Appalachian Trail" and while I can't say that I've visited every town the AT runs through, I would figure there are high odds that Damascus deserves the title of friendliest.

Yeah, this is a town that has embraced Mother Nature. The annual Trail Days event in downtown Damasus wherein they celebrate the Appalachian Trail, the Virginia Creeper Trail, and the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area.

Back in the 70s some of the locals didn't like the idea of things like National Parks and Biking Trails and outdoor outfitter services being part of their town. Terrorists even burned down a vast train trestle being used as a biking trail rather than allow it to become something to attract tourists. But those ignorant jerks were either swept aside or were convinced of the advantage of the town becoming a tourist mecca for outdoors enthusiasts.

These days Damascus can help lead you to biking, hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, kayaking, canoeing, hunting, rock climbing...hell...you name it. There are places where you can rent a cabin or pitch a tent or park a travel trailer/motorhome. Forests surround it. A river runs through it. And the people really are friendly.

St. Augustine, Florida.

Generally I stay away from the places in Florida to which most people are drawn. You won't find me in Orlando or Miami or even Jacksonville. I don't like amusement parks and I can't find a good reason to brave traffic to hit any of the big urban areas in Florida.

Back in 2007 we saw this couple getting married in downtown St. Augustine. Seems like the church was Greek Orthodox. Not sure.

However, I have always enjoyed St. Augustine. It's small enough that I don't get frustrated being stuck in gridlock, and the place is genuinely fun. They claim that it's the oldest continuously inhabited European town in North America. I'll take their word for it.

The downtown area of the city is really cool. Shops and walking streets where no vehicles are permitted. You can see the oldest house in North America. There's a huge Spanish fort mainly intact that you can tour. And all kinds of beaches and state parks and waterways all over the place. If you're not into the whole camping routine there are some great hotels where we have stayed. And the seafood is wonderful. There are a host of good seafood restaurants in the town. In fact, I've never had a bad seafood meal in St. Augustine.

The ancient Spanish fort in St. Augustine.

Well, there you go. There are other cities I like, but those are the ones foremost in my mind. I also like Atlanta GA, San Diego CA, Estes Park CO. Maybe I'll talk about them another day.

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